Matthew 27:62-65 (NIV)

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.”

The fact that Jesus rose from the dead is at the very core of the gospel. Without it, the whole message falls apart. If Jesus had remained dead, what victory would there be to celebrate?

Jesus’ resurrection immediately legitimized His ministry. The Pharisees were religious teachers who often disagreed with Jesus and who became jealous of His popularity. By putting Him to death, they hoped to put an end to His influence. The Pharisees understood the impact that resurrection would have on Jesus’ message.

But just as Jesus foretold, He did in fact rise from the grave (Matthew 28:1-10). This wasn’t a metaphor. He physically rose from the dead! When Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’ followers, first saw Him in the garden, she mistook Him for the gardener (John 20:15). Later, He appeared to other disciples (John 20:19-20, 26-27) and showed them the scars on His body from His crucifixion. Jesus ensured the disciples understood He wasn’t a ghost or apparition. He was the same Jesus who had spent the last three years with them, and He had conquered death.

When it comes to the Christian faith and the good news of the gospel, Jesus’ resurrection is non-negotiable.

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that He raised Christ from the dead. But He did not raise Him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19, NIV)

Paul makes it clear that you cannot deny that Jesus died and was raised from the dead and still claim to be one of His followers. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then His gospel isn’t really good news.

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